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McConnell doesn't rule out getting involved in Republican primaries

McConnell doesn't rule out getting involved in Republican primaries
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says MORE (R-Ky.) didn’t rule out getting involved in the Republican primaries for the 2022 midterm elections in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Monday. 

McConnell indicated that he was open to becoming involved to improve the GOP's chances retaking the majority in the upper chamber after losing it this year. 

He told the newspaper that the effort involves “getting candidates who can actually win in November,” adding “that may or may not involve trying to affect the outcome of the primaries.”

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The Senate minority leader told the Journal that the Republican Party has struggled previously with candidates successful in primaries who did not win in general elections. 

“I personally don’t care what kind of Republican they are, what kind of lane they consider themselves in,” he said. “What I care about is electability.”

McConnell said he expects President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE will likely be a “constructive part” of the 2022 midterm process, saying “I don’t rule out the prospect that he may well be supporting good candidates.”

 “I’m not assuming that, to the extent the former president wants to continue to be involved, he won’t be a constructive part of the process,” he added.

McConnell and the GOP face the prospect of balancing candidates popular with the former president, who still holds considerable sway in the party, and his base with their likelihood of winning seats in more contested states. 

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“That is the dilemma that a lot of Republicans are in. Trumpism is not the future of the party,” former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) told the Journal. “But meanwhile, the president still has a pretty big hold on the base of the party.”

McConnell told the newspaper that he hopes President BidenJoe BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE’s administration leans further left in the next two years, to give Republicans a reason to unite. 

The Senate flipped to Democratic control earlier this year after two Republican Georgia senators lost their seats in runoff elections to Democratic candidates, in what McConnell called “a fiasco.” 

The Georgia results followed months of Trump promoting unfounded claims of widespread election fraud, which he claimed led to his loss to Biden. 

McConnell’s interview comes as the GOP has yet to determine Trump’s post-presidential role in the party. A Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday found that 75 percent of Republican respondents wanted the former president to continue to have a prominent role in the GOP.

The Senate officially acquitted Trump on Saturday in his second impeachment trial. Seven Republican senators sided with Democrats and voted to convict Trump in the most bipartisan Senate impeachment trial results in history. 

McConnell voted to acquit the former president but issued a scathing rebuke of Trump saying he was “morally responsible” for the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. He stood by his vote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday, saying the Senate’s decision to acquit “vindicated the Constitution, not Trump.”

The House impeached Trump a week before the end of his presidency on allegations that he incited the violence at the Capitol in early January.